Read Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism by Alain Badiou Ray Brassier Online


In this bold and provocative work, French philosopher Alain Badiou proposes a startling reinterpretation of St. Paul. For Badiou, Paul is neither the venerable saint embalmed by Christian tradition, nor the venomous priest execrated by philosophers like Nietzsche: he is instead a profoundly original and still revolutionary thinker whose invention of Christianity weaves truIn this bold and provocative work, French philosopher Alain Badiou proposes a startling reinterpretation of St. Paul. For Badiou, Paul is neither the venerable saint embalmed by Christian tradition, nor the venomous priest execrated by philosophers like Nietzsche: he is instead a profoundly original and still revolutionary thinker whose invention of Christianity weaves truth and subjectivity together in a way that continues to be relevant for us today.In this work, Badiou argues that Paul delineates a new figure of the subject: the bearer of a universal truth that simultaneously shatters the strictures of Judaic Law and the conventions of the Greek Logos. Badiou shows that the Pauline figure of the subject still harbors a genuinely revolutionary potential today: the subject is that which refuses to submit to the order of the world as we know it and struggles for a new one instead....

Title : Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism
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ISBN : 9780804744713
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Number of Pages : 128 Pages
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Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism Reviews

  • Mohammad Mahdi Fallah
    2019-02-28 12:13

    کتاب به تمام معنا یک شاهکار است و نمونه مثالی از تفسیر یک شخصیت تاریخی براساس نظام فلسفی بکر و ناب. فارغ از اینکه تا چه میزان تفسیر بدیو از پل صحیح باشد و تا چه میزان بتوان از خلال بحث‌های کلیشه‌ای، او را متهم به بدفهمی پل کرد، تفسیر بدیو کاملاً منسجم و سرراست یک حرف را می‌خواهد بزند: پل را می‌توان در خارج از سنت مسیحی به‌عنوان سوژه‌ای فهمید که در مقام اعلام حقیقت ایستاده و این حقیقت را با صدای رسا برای همگان اعلام می‌کند؛ بی‌هیچ تفاوتی و به اقتضای همین اعلام‌کردن است که رسول (نه فیلسوف و نه نبی) می‌شود و می‌تواند در عین تکینگی و خاص‌بودگی، در مقام بنیان کلی‌گرایی قرار گیرد. کتاب شامل یازده فصل است که در هر کدام از فصل‌ه، بدیو مخاطب را با پل خودش آشنا می‌کند؛ از «پل کیست؟» شروع می‌کند تا به «عشق» و «امید» به‌عنوان ارکان ایمان مسیحی برسد و حتی به شبهه‌های فمنیستی علیه پل جواب می‌دهد. برای همین تقریباً تصویری کلی از او بدست می‌آید و درتفکر بدیو، صورت «عشق» حقیقت ظاهر می‌شود. پل پیامبران همگان است تا جایگاه سوژه انسانی در مقام پسر را مستقر سازد و اعلام کند چگونه باید از طریق موقعیت تکینه و انضمامی زندگی، انسان به‌مرتبه کلیت ارتقاء یابد و چگونه باید در این موقعیت، وفادارانه پابرجا باقی بماند.بدیو برای تبیین چنین موضعی لاجرم باید از قانون و نص عبور کند و درنهایت از پل عملاً مسیحیت‌زدایی کند؛ در عین حالی که فصل‌های نهایی با تکیه بر اقرار پل به یهودی بودنش تلاش می‌کند که موقعیت انضمامی وی را حفظ کند، ولی درنهایت پل در تصویر نهایی‌اش از نقطه‌نظری دینی یک دئیسم است: سوژه‌ای ایستاده دربرابر حقیقت که عملاً به هیچ شرعی پایبند نیست و عملاً هر چیزی به واسطه اعلام حقیقت روا می‌دارد. چنانچه در ابتدا نیز گفته شد، فارغ از این که تا چه‌میزان این تصویر از پل به‌لحاظ تفسیر قابل خدشه است، در مواجهه با حقیقت نیز جایگاهی برای عمل باید گشوده شود. برای بدیو ایمان به‌معنای عشق به حقیقت است و ازجمله ضرورت‌های ایمان، اعلام آن برای خطاب قراردادن همگان است؛ حلقه مفقوده ولی هنوز عمل است که باید مورد بازنگری واقع شود. در نسخه‌ی کنونی این کتاب عملاً راه‌حل بدیو نفی هر قانونی است، در نسخه اینجایی و اکنونی و انضمامی ما راه‌حل چه خواهد بود؟

  • Karl Steel
    2019-03-21 06:57

    My first Badiou, and it would feel as if it were my first Paul, had it not been for my fundy upbringing. This is a Paul freed from the "religious thaumaturgy[,...] charlatanism....[and] masochistic propaganda extolling the virtues of suffering" of the Gospels (which, at any rate, appeared only after Paul wrote); a Paul freed from "obscurantist" mysticism; a Paul freed from Acts--fascinating for students of narrative, but unchallenging philosophically; and freed from Pascal and Nietzsche's misreadings to rest only in those few epistles that we can confidently assign to him (Romans, Corinthians I and II, Galatians, Philippians, and Thessalonians 1). This is a Paul without Hell, without any interest in the words or life of Christ, whose only interest in Christianity is in the resurrection, in the universal address articulated on the site of Judaism. It's a Paul that would be completely unfamiliar to the church that raised me. Good.It's still not as atheist as all that, despite Badiou's claims for his secular bona fides and despite his repeated assertions of his nonbelief in the resurrection. After all, he takes the literal existence of Jesus for granted, and, more to the point, he's reading Paul, not, say, Rashi or some other figure typically excluded from the so-called Western and especially "French" tradition. Thus he remains French, despite his disdain for "French identitarian fanaticism" as evidenced in Le Pen and French anti-veiling laws. And He still calls the Hebrew scriptures the "Old Testament"! He takes Paul's statements about the constraints of the Jewish law for granted (and he may be as credulous when it comes to Paul's attitudes towards Greek philosophy), and he engages in what strikes me as special pleading about Paul's attitudes towards women preachers (and note Badiou's dance with the word "filiation!"), towards effeminate men, towards bodies and sex, and so forth, all that makes Paul embarassing for the decent Christians I know. Badiou's Paul is therefore an ok Paul, without remainder, but only because Badiou decides not to engage the whole of the Pauline corpus, even within the limits he sets.So, a few representative bits from this thinker we might call Alain Paul Badiou:" Paul is a poet-thinker of the event, as well as one who practices and states the invariant traits of what can be called the militant figure""the absolute sovereignty of capital's empty universality, had as its only genuine enemy another universal project""there is nothing more captive, so far as commercial investment is concerned, nothing more amenable to the invention of new figures of monetary homogeneity, than a community and its territory or territories""every truth procedure breaks with the axiomatic principle that governs the situation and organizes its repetitive series""The "culture-technology-management-sexuality" system, which has the immense merit of being homogeneous to the market, and all of whose terms designate a category of commercial presentation, constitutes the modern nominal occlusion of the "art-science-politics-love" system, which identifies truth procedures typologically.""since truth is evental, or of the order of what occurs, it is singular. It is neither structural, nor axiomatic, nor legal. No available generality can account for it, nor structure the subject who claims to follow in its wake.""A truth procedure is only universal insofar as it is supported, at that point through which it indexes the real, by an immediate subjective recognition of its singularity. Failing which, one resorts to observances or particular signs, which can only fix the Good News within the communitarian space, blocking its universal deployment.""Greek discourse bases itself on the cosmic order so as to adjust itself to it, while Jewish discourse bases itself on the exception to this order so as to turn divine transcendence into a sign. Paul's profound idea is that Jewish discourse and Greek discourse are the two aspects of the same figure of mastery.....The result is, firstly, that neither of the two dis courses can be universal, because each supposes the persistence of the other; and secondly, that the two discourses share the presupposition that the key to salvation is given to us within the universe, whether it be through direct mastery of the totality (Greek wisdom), or through mastery of a literal tradition and the deciphering of signs (Jewish ritualism and prophetism)....Paul's project is to show that a universal logic of salvation cannot be reconciled with any law, be it one that ties thought to the cosmos, or one that fixes the effects of an exceptional election. It is impossible that the starting point be the Whole, but just as impossible that it be an exception to the Whole. Neither totality nor the sign will do. One must proceed from the event as such, which is a-cosmic and illegal, refusing integration into any totality and signaling nothing.""He simply reminds us, even if only by deliberately neglecting to mention these extraneous virtuosities, that none of this is enough to found a new era of Truth. What the particular individual named Jesus said and did is only the contingent material seized upon by the event in view of an entirely different destiny. In this sense, Jesus is neither a master nor an example. He is the name for what happens to us universally.""What can measure up to the universality of an address? Not legality, in any case. The law is always predicative, particular, and partial. Paul is perfectly aware of the law's unfailingly "statist" character. By "statist" I mean that which enumerates, names, and controls the parts of a situation. If a truth is to surge forth eventally, it must be nondenumer able, impredicable, uncontrollable."

  • Daniel
    2019-03-23 11:04

    In Saint Paul, Alain Badiou argues that, throughout the apostle 'authentic' writings we can find a clear fidelity to a universal and an event (an event is something that happens without any anticipation - like a thief in the night). The event, for Paul, is the resurrection of Christ. The universal, for Paul, is that Jesus rose from the dead. Unlike conceptual or material universals, Paul's universal is not opposed to falsehood. There is no way that Paul's truth - his objective truth - can be countered because it is not in the order of the noetic or the physical. In other words, Paul's universal is not simply a maxim (a conceptual universal) or a historical event (a physical/material/historical universal). Rather, it exists aside from these two orders.Now, the universal - Jesus rose from the dead - reaches out to the particulars because it applies to all, irrespective of any differences. There is neither Greek nor Jew, man nor woman; and yet, at the same time, there are Greeks and Jews, men and women. As Badiou argues, the differences between the Greek and the Jew, the man and the women are not of prime importance. What matters first of all is the truth of the universal (which is neither conceptual nor historical). In Badiou's terms this is the fidelity to the truth-event (the resurrection of Jesus). All differences are secondary.In order to proclaim his message, Paul, therefore, becomes "all things to all men" (is indifferent to particulars) and yet acknowledges that not all men are the same. Hence, Paul is neither a Jewish prophet (who provides signs from God) nor a Greek philosopher (who persuades through reason). He is, rather, a new kind of figure - an anti-philosopher and an apostle.Why did I give this book only one star?Because Badiou's lack of thorough research was extremely aggravating.For instance, near the beginning of the book, Badiou simply states that, of all the canonical epistles attributed to Paul "at least six are certainly apocryphal" (32) without providing any references. Now, I believe that all of the canonical epistles were either written or dictated by Paul and I believe there is a lot of evidence to back up my view. This having been said, I know that most critical scholars still regard II Timothy and Ephesians to be authentic. Badiou, however, does not. This leads me to believe that he's only relying on a minimal number of scholarly sources (the fact that Badiou does not reference his historical statements really bothers me).Secondly, Badiou simply states that the resurrection was a fable and not a historical event (in the colloquial sense of event). Only those who are quite ignorant of recent (and historical debates) can assert such a claim with this kind of confidence (once again, Badiou makes no effort to reference his assertion). There are numerous monographs and debates available showing that there is far more evidence in favour of the bodily resurrection of Christ than the non-resurrection or a merely spiritual resurrection. Just think of the works by N.T. Wright and Gary Habermas to name but two. Shimon Gibson, a non-Christian archeologist has, himself, stated in his book The Final Days of Jesus, that "[t]he reality is that there is no historical explanation for the empty tomb, other than if we adopt a theological one, i.e., the resurrection" (165). So, once again, the fact that Badiou simply states that the resurrection is a fable, without even acknowledging the controversy, suggests that he hasn't been doing his homework.Thirdly, it is only because Badiou dismisses the book of Acts as 'ideologically tainted' (a common Marxist tactic) - the book, Badiou claims, was most likely written to appeal to Roman society "[Acts] is [probably] an official document, whose function is to provide an account of the first decades of Christianity that would be as uniform, organization, and "Roman" as possible" (26) - that he can assert that Paul avoided using rational arguments and miracles to authenticate his message. Throughout Acts, Luke reports that Paul and Barnabas/Silas performed a number of miracles: with the Jews in Iconium "they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands" (Acts 14:3); with Gentiles in Malta, Paul survived a poisonous snake bite. These are but two instances (of many others). Badiou, however, does not need to deal with them because he has already eliminated the book of Acts from the 'authentic and trustworthy writings'. This, for those who are interested, is an easy way to make research and argumentation easier: simply assert that all the books that challenge your thesis are 'ideologically tainted' and then carry on without worry. (To be fair, Badiou does discuss Paul's message to the philosophers on Mars Hill, though only to show that Paul was an anti-philosopher - throughout Badiou makes it clear that he does not believe the Mars Hill-debate really happened).What do all of these criticisms amount to? Perhaps you will charge me with 'missing the point'. Badiou's argument does not stand or fall because of any historical details, you might say. I disagree. Whether the resurrection did or did not happen does affect the status of Paul's message. If the resurrection did happen (there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to support the fact that it did) then Badiou's claim that the truth-event of resurrection is neither conceptual nor historical must be altered. Moreover, if we incorporate the book of Acts (as well as the rest of Paul's epistles) into the study, Badiou will have to admit that there were times when Paul reasoned, and other times when he performed miracles.The most problematic aspect of Badiou's book, however, is the lack of references used. Were Badiou to acknowledge controversial claims wherever they are, his book would have profited immensely.

  • Thomas Fackler
    2019-03-20 11:09

    A quick read. A dense read. Badiou analyzes those texts linked to St. Paul and shows him to be an antiphilosopher in the same vein as, but more consistent then, Pascal and Nietzsche. This consistency stems from the nature of St. Paul's work - his travels to unify (not codify) a growing group of believers who are organized around (and for St. Paul, in) an event that, for him, transcends history. The event becomes the locus for St. Paul's antiphilosophical progression - a militant universalism to which any person with faith, hope, and love can relate.

  • Amani Bryant
    2019-03-08 11:09

    a very different perspective on Paul than the normal religious one I am used to.Difficult to read if you're not familiar with the writings of Paul. I felt Badiou missed the point on a LOT of things, but at the same time, I enjoyed this book a lot for the intellectual challenge it posed, not to mention the fact that it incited me to look much more deeply on my own into the biblical cannonization process.

  • Licinius
    2019-02-24 07:51

    Cet ouvrage est une bonne surprise. J’avais peur qu’un philosophe athée comme Badiou nous ressorte les mêmes ficelles critiques envers Saint-Paul, accusé à tort de professer la haine de la vie, des femmes et d’être d’un soit disant dogmatisme écrasant. Badiou nous montre réellement ce qu’est Saint-Paul et en quoi son œuvre est un point de départ vers un certain universalisme. Du temps de Saint-Paul, deux visions du christianisme s’affrontent. Le premier groupe, emmené par Pierre et Jacques, représentent les partisans d’un Christianisme résolument tourné vers la judaïté/la Loi. Le second, celui de Paul où seule la résurrection du Christ est l’événement, une singularité universelle que tous, Grec (=Païens) et Juifs (=non-paiens) doivent adhérer. Saint-Paul ne cherche pas à respecter la Loi, elle ne permet pas le salut et les Grecs n’ont donc pas à s’y conformer. Bien sûr, ses paroles font polémiques. Les partisans d’un christianisme communautaire refusent de laisser tomber ce particularisme religieux. Cette lutte presque idéologique peut nous sembler obsolète de nos jours, mais il n’en est rien. Le combat de Saint-Paul reste très contemporain. Badiou n’y va pas par quatre chemins en choisissant un exemple qu’il affectionne particulièrement : le capitalisme actuel. En effet, pour lui le capitalisme ne vit que pour et à travers les sous-ensembles, les communautés. Les islamistes radicaux, les homosexuels, les jeunes actifs, les catholiques traditionnalistes, les jeunes retraités, les adolescents, les enfants de « bas âges » et j’en passe ! A chaque sous ensemble, communauté, ses traditions (dont l’astuce est de faire croire qu’il faut y faire parti pour les comprendre) et surtout son marché potentiel où le capitalisme peut faire son chiffre d’affaires. Pas d’universalité dans notre monde actuel, en fait, on s’en méfie même beaucoup. L’universalisme s’apparente à un totalisme, c'est-à-dire à une idée totalitaire dont on agite l’épouvantail nazi. Badiou a une formule très belle, un peu pédante pour réagir à cela : « Non, nous ne laisserons pas les droits de la vérité-pensée n’avoir pour instances que le monétarisme libre-échangiste et son médiocre pendant politique, le capitalo-parlementariste, dont le beau mot de « démocratie » couvre de plus en plus mal la misère ».Badiou continue son exposé actuel en expliquant que notre monde postmoderne supporte mal les procédures de vérité. C’est même une véritable hostilité qui se déclenche à leurs égards. Le symptôme de cette hostilité se trouve représenté par le remplacement des mots, du sens. « Le nom de culture vient oblitérer celui de l’art, le mot technique oblitère celui de science, gestion celui de politique, sexualité oblitère l’amour. […] Le système culture-technique-gestion-sexualité qui a le mérite d’être homogène au marché et désigne une rubrique de présentation marchande, recouvre donc l’ancienne dénomination du système art-science-politique-amour qui représentait les procédures typologique de vérité. » Et justement, Saint-Paul, lui, est bien sûr au dessus de ces sous-ensembles. « Dieu ne fait point acceptation de personnes » dit la bible. Il ne parle pas pour un groupe de juifs conduits par quelques apôtres dont Jérusalem est le centre, mais il veut parler pour tous (d’où cette notion d’apôtre des « nations » qu’on lui confère). Badiou laisse entendre qu’il y a une possibilité qu’il fut falsifié, en partie pour combattre l’hérésie de Martion qui stipulait que le seul vrai apôtre fut Saint-Paul, guidé par le dieu de l’amour, du bien du nouveau testament, contre les méchants apôtres, Pierre et Luc en tête, guidé par le dieu du mal, celui de l’ancien testament qui punit et condamne. Le seul moyen pour que l’hérésie soit stoppé fut d’inclure les textes de Paul dans la future Bible, avec quelques ajouts pour confirmer le compromis de Jérusalem où historicité judaïque et message universel se voient unis. Saint-Paul use de la dualité Juif/Grec pour montrer le discours derrière ces deux notions. Le discours juif est celui du prophète, de l’interprétation des signes, de l’exception. L’histoire du peuple juif est exceptionnelle, c’est le peuple élu parmi bien d’autres. Pour le discours grec, c’est celui du sage, du logos, du cosmique, de la totalité. Le discours juif a besoin du discours grec pour affirmer son exception parmi le cosmos. Et donc, pour Saint-Paul, l’universalisme n’est pas possible entre ces deux discours car ils sont dépendants. D’où sa constante référence au Christ, au fils. Le Père étant la figure donnant des discours, celui à qui on obéit. Le fils étant celui qui n’a pas de discours. Le discours chrétien est donc résolument nouveau, révolutionnaire. Contrairement à Jean qui s’efforcera de placer le discours chrétien dans le logos grec pour montrer son antijudaisme, Paul veut montrer que le discours chrétien est une autre voie parmi ces deux autres. Le fait que Paul recherche la déchéance du maitre, aussi bien chez les juifs (le père), que chez les grecs (la sagesse) tends à montrer cette nouvelle voie, qui n’est ni plus ni moins que la résurrection du Christ comme possibilité du fait que nous pouvons nous aussi réussir à ressusciter et vaincre la mort.Ce qui ressemble à un scandale, à un blasphème pour le discours juif, est tout autant folie et déraison pour le discours grec. Saint Paul le dit : l’annonce de l’Evangile ne se « fait pas à la sagesse des discours, afin que la croix du Christ ne soit pas rendue vaine »Badiou évoque enfin un quatrième discours qui va monter en puissance quelques siècles après Paul. Pascal en est un des apôtres de ce discours, celui de la Gloire, des Miracles, du mysticisme chrétien. Paul n’est pas forcément contre ce discours, mais il doit rester personnel et ne surtout pas être utiliser dans l’évangélisation, car on retombe alors dans le discours juif. Pour Paul, seul l’événement Christ, sans signes, sans miracles, sans sagesses, juste à travers sa mort et sa résurrection suffit. Il est plus rationnel que Pascal qui lui tente de justifier la prééminence des miracles du christianisme pour attirer le chaland… Nietzsche en prend pour son grade dans cet essai et c’est mérité. Sa haine de Saint-Paul est basé sur des exagérations et des aprioris que Badiou s’est bien senti de rappelé. Nietzche a toujours vu en Saint-Paul la haine de la vie, le triomphe de la mort et la figure du juif errant. Mais Saint-Paul dépasse ces notions, il n’est pas juif, ni grec, il est au dessus de cela. Dans un sens, Saint-Paul veut que les juifs et les grecs du monde entier deviennent des nouveaux hommes avec cet événement du Christ sur la croix et sa résurrection ! Ce n’est pas pour montrer que la mort est à obtenir, mais juste que celle-ci est dépassable. Tout cela sonne très nietzschéen finalement. L’explication sur le fait que Saint-Paul soit contre la Loi (les dix commandements) est bien amenée.Pour Saint-Paul, la Loi est un péché par essence, car elle provoque le désir de transgression qui n’existait pas avant. Cette transgression est un interdit, une négation de la vie, la mort. Cela se résume dans cette pensée « La lettre tue, mais l’esprit crée la vie ». Le salut ne peut donc provenir de la Loi, qui ne provoque qu’un désir de transgression inconscient, un automatisme de ce qui est interdit, elle nomme le pêché. Face à la loi, Saint-Paul met en avant l’amour comme puissance universelle et l’accomplissement de la loi. « Aime son prochain comme toi-même» remplace les 10 commandements. Face à l’objection des commandements, la maxime unique d’aimer son prochain incarne l’unicité et l’affirmation positive. Un bel essai donc, cependant, Badiou (et en cela il est bien athée) voit peut être trop Saint-Paul comme un militant politique "proto-communiste" qu’un réel leader religieux. Pour lui, la résurrection n’est qu’une « fable » et on a l’impression qu’il veut nous amener à croire que Saint-Paul pensait aussi cela…

  • Amir Javadi
    2019-02-23 07:59

    بدیو در این بازخوانی پولس، نگاهش دلالت‌های سیاسی داره. شریعتی هم با همین نگاه می‌گفت برگردیم و ابوذر رو از نو بشناسیم و ...

  • Michael
    2019-03-02 06:01

    Although Badiou is, I think, correct in asserting that Paul extends his universalist discourse so far as to prevent it from being confined to and monopolized by mystical obscurantist discourse, he misses the fact that Paul is himself mystic on the basis of his own transformative conversion experience who founds universalism out of a mystical event that exceeds all previous mystical discourses. That is, Paul advocates a mystical universalism that rejects obscurantist discourse by exceeding it and that proceeds from an event that is more than merely fictitious and subjective. However, it is true that Paul's experience of the event that proceeds from the order of grace, over and against the order of being, founds a universalism that enacts itself materially, immanently, and subjectively without confinement. Had the book taken this more mystical-materialist approach, I think it would have been more spot on.

  • Justin Evans
    2019-02-26 07:12

    I just re-read-skimmed this, and was pleasantly surprised. I read it first as an undergrad, thrilled to be up to date and onto the next big thing and all that. Since then I've become a little jaded- more than a little. And there are definite eye-rolling moments in this one, but it's also a pretty gripping plea for progressive political thinking to be at least as idealistic as it is critical. Combined with his little book Ethics, in fact, he's managed to provide a great argument against much of what passes as 'radical' thinking: identity politics, relativism etc etc... Turns out that there's nothing politically impressive about these things at all. That said, his ontology's even more ridiculous than the fact that he has a real, serious ontology; and this book has very little to do with Paul. But then, it was never meant to.

  • David
    2019-03-25 04:52

    This is beautiful and alive. I want to go to a church where they study this in Sunday school. Badiou's plowing this ground for his own reasons, which is perhaps part of how it can be so spiritually and intellectually challenging at once."Or let us posit that it is incumbent upon us to found a materialism of grace through the strong, simple idea that every existence can one day be seized by what happens to it and subsequently devote itself to that which is valid for all, or as Paul magnificently puts it, 'become all things to all men'."-pg 66Oh yes.

  • Albert
    2019-02-25 12:58

    Really one of the most moving philosophical meditations on faith I've read, and from an atheist no less. I was afraid he would be spouting about events and set theory the whole time, and there was actually fairly little of that and quite a bit about faith, hope, love, universality (of affirmation) and transcendence (of critique).

  • Chris Schaeffer
    2019-03-02 12:54

    Universalism or sectarianism? The radical "for all" or the remnant? Chronos or kairos? Do you like Alain Badiou or do you like Agamben? I like Agamben, but this book was still pretty good. Badiou lands some pretty savage blows on Pascal and Nietzsche. I didn't know he had it in him.

  • Jeremy Sabol
    2019-03-12 08:54

    wonderful, strange, provocative reading of Paul. Paul is an important figure for Badiou, and I think Paul actually helps understand Badiou as much as the other way around.

  • Joe Spencer
    2019-03-02 13:03

    Hands down, the best book I've come across on Paul, though written by an atheist!

  • Scott
    2019-02-23 05:54

    When Prof. Ted Jennings lectured at First Central earlier in the month, he spoke of the non-Christian, even atheist and Marxist thinkers, who were drawing upon Paul as the revolutionary figure needed for our age. I was not familiar with this body of work, which surprised me, as I have read a lot in Paul studies the last dozen years and radically altered my views on him. So, I Googled to learn more and discovered a rich literature and even textbooks of selections of such writings on Paul.I decided to order this one, as I have also never read Badiou, so I could check the box of having read one of his books and thus kill two birds with one stone.When I began the book, I rolled my eyes, for a sentence like this is what makes contemporary French philosophy almost impossible: "How are we to inscribe this name into the development of our project: to refound a theory of the Subject that subordinates its existence to the aleatory dimension of the event as well as to the pure contingency of multiple-being without sacrificing the theme of freedom?"I also had to look "aleatory" up.But as I finished the first chapter, I had to take back some of my snark, for it was quite good. And this was one of those books I stayed up late and got up early to keep reading.That doesn't mean it was easy, for it had some dense sentences like that one. And I'm certain I did not grasp all of Badiou's meaning. But here I encountered a Paul who is knew to me. Yet, also familiar enough that I could resonate with Badiou's discussion. Paul centers his thought upon a fabulous event--the resurrection--which opens up the opportunity to create a new, universal humanity, a new creature. Particularity and wisdom, law and difference, are all overcome in this revolution. When Jennings lectured on these developments in Pauline thought, but ended with an emphasis on resurrection, one of my congregants was puzzled, and we've had follow-up conversations. He felt that if Paul was to be used by atheists and Marxists, surely the resurrection would be cast aside. I enjoyed texting him that for Badiou the resurrection, while fable and as fable, is essential to understanding Paul and his ideas for revolution.I also commend Badiou's exegesis, which is quite good. I will use some passages in sermons, I'm sure. Two drawbacks to the book--no bibliography and no index. Puzzling in an intellectual work.

  • Jamie
    2019-03-01 13:08

    This little book was a delight to read. As a Badiouist and a comparative religions major, it tickles me in all the right places. Highlighted Paul as a profound thinker rather than the faceless ghoul behind dusty texts from two thousand years ago.

  • Matt
    2019-03-17 11:01

    This is a short, dense, fascinating book. I was telling a friend, who is a Medievalist, about reading MacCoby's The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity, a polemical reading of Paul, and he suggested this book by Badiou. I was intrigued. I had never read Badiou, and other than knowing that he was French and one of the in vogue "high theorists," I was basically in the dark about his writing and theory. This book, and a little google fu, helped me learn that Badiou is primarily concerned with "the event." What is the "event," you ask? It is a thing that happens which has meaning. It is a philosophically irreducible principle, like the sign, or the Platonic form. I get the sense that the event is more Badiou's thing than Paul's, but he makes a pretty convincing argument that we can read Paul this way. He even cites Greek sometimes, and his translations check out (although I am not super versed in the Koine dialect). The essential argument here is that Paul is an antiphilosopher, like Nietzsche, the great critic of Paul. (Some of the most exciting bits of the book are when Badiou shows how Paul anticipates Nietzsche's own ideas.) The introduction explains how this antiphilosophy might be considered valuable in our own century. In some ways this was my favorite part of the book. Badiou explains how our current political climate is so ruled by commodity fetishism that we have started to treat identities as commodities, and even when we try to recognize identities for the force of good, e.g. transfolk or native peoples, they end up becoming one more category for the market to absorb. How do we escape this bind? Universalist antiphilosophy. The rest of the book goes into how Paul's universalism works. This universalism is not an attempt to place any particular ideal above any other. Instead, it is theoretical universality. Paul's universality is malleable and meant to transcend norms without appealing to the mystical or the metaphysical. The means of articulating universality is the pronunciation of the event (in Paul's case, the resurrection of Christ). I have to admit that I didn't follow all of the ins and outs of the argument on my first read through. There were a few chapters where I was lost, but usually the next chapter would pull me back in. The chapter on "Love as Universal Power" was particularly compelling, though I wouldn't recommend reciting it to your lover on Valentine's Day. One of the last chapters addresses the biggest problem that most of us face when reading Paul: his misogyny and anti-semitism. I found Badiou's pithy defense of Paul against both of these charges convincing, although I still think a lot of people will use readings of Paul for these purposes, regardless of Badiou's reading. If you don't mind getting tied in knots by some lively, post-structuralist French theory then give this a shot. I certainly enjoyed navigating it, and now I'm interesting in reading more of Badiou's ouvre. This is a suggesting piece of speculative intellectual history. Like Paul, it packs a real punch.

  • Miguel
    2019-03-08 06:17

    "Do not be conformed to the present century, but be transformed by the renewal of your thought" (Rom. 12.2)In Saint Paul, Badiou promotes a reading of Saint Paul in opposition to how he has been cast by previous philosophers. Engaging in a stunning display of surgical acumen, slicing the secular metaphysical content from the Christian, Badiou positions Paul as the premiere antiphilosophical thinker establishing the necessary truth procedure to establish the universal subject.Badiou, in short, does not repudiate the existence of difference "in the situation," but rather suggests that there is no such thing as a fundamental difference. The identitarian organization of the human subject are simply the conformist desire of a subject in society. Citing Paul's claim to be a Jew among Jews and a Greek among Greeks, Badiou suggests that alterity can be altered. The universalism of the subject is in their individualized absolute individuality. To illustrate this, Badiou says that "the event" (in this rumination, the death and resurrection of Christ) is structured in such a way that the militant subject (Saint Paul) can publicly declare "the event" and its apprehension constitutes the universal subject.Badiou's argument is far more complicated than what I've laid out, which brings me to my next point: this is not at all a readable text. Badiou is at his most obtuse and opaque here, compounding the philosophical difficulty of the work by engaging in lengthy (and, in fact, counter to the substance of his argument) historical digressions. Worse, still, Badiou pits Paul up against Pascal and Nietzsche in fairly unproductive ways. A reader might be confused as to whether Badiou sees Nietzsche in opposition to Paul or wishes to conflate them entirely, to both Paul and Nietzsche's disservice. Ultimately Badiou's claim is that Paul anticipates Nietzsche and has much in common with him despite Nietzsche's resistance to him, but this is clearly an oversimplification of Nietzsche.Though much of what Badiou lays out here is useful, the overall structure of the argument leaves a lot to be desired. From that faulty structure proceeds some unconvincing claims about the relationship between difference and sameness. Of course, it's easy to see why Badiou might want to discuss his views about universalism in such erudite academic terms. When he articulates them in more "user friendly" texts, he sounds utterly saccharine.

  • Brian Tringali
    2019-02-23 11:06

    This is written by a French philosopher who is at best undecided in terms of belief. That is in part why it is worth reading. But the most striking part of the book is his discussion of Paul (and therefore Scripture) as a contemporary of today. Badiou gets into a side-bar discussion of French immigration policy (written in 2003) which asks important questions about whether we all really love our neighbors the way that Christian belief would challenge us to do. While Paul may have been unhappy with his various cells of Christians prompting his many Letters, did Paul himself lived up to this standard?

  • Laura
    2019-03-06 06:50

    Hm, Badiou: I understand that you are, to some degree, responding to theories that you think are overly deconstructive and despairing - while still pushing against the trappings of capitalism - but I think your investment in the Pauline event is whiggidy whack. You ask the question: What are the conditions for a universal singularity? and you attempt to answer that these conditions exist here in this world, but I am not convinced. Try again?It’s funny to me that I read a book earlier this year written by a gay man about a womanizer, and now I read a book written by an atheist about the merits of the road to Damascus. Irony. Geez.

  • Andrew
    2019-03-13 05:59

    I am rather proud of myself, as I could not find a copy of this book at the library in English I resorted to reading a French copy. Luckily my French hasn't rusted completely!I find Badiou's interest in St. Paul odd yet totally consistent with his philosophy. He makes an excellent case of how Paul relates to Badiou's concept of a truth event, without any sophistry whatsoever. Even though I know a lot of theologians would take issue with this book (and for good reasons) it nonetheless elucidates a big part of Badiou-thought.

  • Chelsea Szendi
    2019-03-16 06:12

    I wonder if some interesting connections could be made between this contemporary interest in the universalist implications of the thought of Saint Paul (by both Badiou and Zizek) and the work of Maruyama Masao sniffing out the origins of an indigenous modernity in the Tokugawa thought of Ogyu Sorai.

  • Leonardo
    2019-03-14 09:08

    No me gustó tanto, me parece que tenía muy altas expectativas. Me costó un poco entenderlo. Con estas cosas de Pablo me da la sensación de que entendía hasta antes de leer. Aveces me parece demasiado embrollada la interpretación. No pierdo la esperanza con Badiou, ya le voy a leer alguna otra cosa.

  • Ampat Varghese
    2019-03-17 08:19

    The deadliest book on St Paul I have ever read, exposing him for the anti-philospher he is and extolling him for the same. Now it is easy to see and understand how he created a religion more powerful that the Communist movement. :)

  • Robyn
    2019-02-25 09:17

    his historical understanding of paul is dismal. his work on "the subject" and "the event" dares to bore you to tears.

  • Xdyj
    2019-03-21 07:00

    I think Badiou cares less interpreting other authors' ideas and more about how those ideas may be appropriated by the radical left.

  • Jessica Zu
    2019-03-03 09:15

    totally lost ... especially when he cites chinese commis ...

  • pozharvgolovu
    2019-03-06 09:17

    I like the way Badiou explains the idea of kharis, a gift outside the law, if I understood correctly.